Let’s Just Talk Mecha Today

Having just finished watching the excellently exciting IGPX sans the final 2 unbroadcasted episodes, there is no room in my mind for anything other than cool mecha. So for today, I’ll just talk a bit about mecha in general.

Some people hate it (Hung), some people adore it (ME). But out of those who like it, there are various types as well. We have the super robot fans (not me), the rugged realistic fans (erm me) and the slick sci-fi fans (me too). On the whole, it is safe to say that most mecha fans are male.

People have heard me raving about the greatness of IGPX. Why? The show is basically equipped with a standard racing plot – rookies, with much guts and spirit, win the competition. Then in their second year, they let fame and glory get to their heads but still win again after much trials and tribulations. It’s pretty much the way for racing anime. IGPX is great because of the racing/fight scenes and mecha designs. The 7 teams who appeared in the show have three mecha each and these 21 are superbly designed for both beauty, function and form.


Team Satomi’s Forward. One reason it’s hot is the glossy paintwork that’s even animated to the finest detail.

The team consists of a forward, a midfielder and a defender. While this concept sounds good on paper, the show doesn’t really show why having different positions is necessary. Of course, you would expect a forward to be speedy and pack acceleration, a midfielder to be all-rounded and a defender to be strong, armoured but slow. However, in the show, you can’t really tell the difference in stats. But anyway, this specialisation itself is cool already. The beauty of the IGPX mecha results from the combination of function and form.

Unlike say Super Robot Wars, Godannar or even Gundam (especially Seed, G and Wing), which are totally bullshit in terms of realistic functional design, IGPX’s mechas are perfectly streamlined for their purpose (racing) and every single part serves a rational purpose, either for more speed, handling or battle. It would be expected of Production IG actually, since the best functional designs come from their anime. The others would be Tachikomas and Jigabachi from GitS:SAC. The Macross Valkyries are also part of this elite class of form and function.

The IG machines from IGPX can also transform into a Speed Mode, not unlike Eureka seveN’s LFOs’ vehicle modes. Man, these transformations are sooo cool. While most of the time, transforming mecha are quite implausible and unnecessary, the simplicity of IG machine’s Speed Mode change totally makes sense.

All the 7 teams in IGPX have their own unique style. Satomi’s yellow and blue team colours just scream "I’m for racing!" and they are so unarmed, that it’s quite dumb of them. Team Sledgemama’s pistons-and-pipes heavy metal style fits with their rough manly image, and their weapons, the finger and arm missiles, allow for great offense. Then we have the classy and elegantly regal Team Velshtein, equipped with a super tornado punch and aerial gliders. Team Skylark, a all-girl melee team, has extendable arms for some super boxing action. Team Black Egg, that’s totally CYBER, plays defensive, without weaponry but a tonne of evasive equipment. Team Edgeraid and their hoops and wires, uses complex team strategies and manuveres like.. Spidermen. And then White Snow, who are hackers and sneaky bastards.


Team Velshtein’s mecha is something a yaoi bishonen should pilot.


Hard men pilot these. With tonnes of exhaust pipes and cylinders.


Graceful woman IG machine. Note the folded forearm can flick out like a switchblade. It’s also equipped with a slipstream disrupter.


The defender of Team Edgeraid pays tribute to Ghost in the Shell.


They have totally cool machines, Team Black Egg but they were so gay because they didn’t attack.


Fantine is voiced by Horie Yui. Hocchan!

As in most sports anime, the main team is always balanced while the opponents are one-trick ponies who lose when their one trick is defeated. To some extent, IGPX has this. But there is still a lot of amazing action scenes. I NEED TO GET the toys for these man! I hope they make like all 21 fully detailed and poseable, diecast with glossy metallic paint.

Moving on, I shall talk about Tachikoma and GitS. I really like how animal form is incorporated stylishly into these mecha (ouch Zoids!). Tachikoma is a spider, while Jigabachi is the wasp (and it means Wasp in Japanese). We all know wasps hunt spiders, hence Jigabachi’s designation of anti-tank helicopter. The attack tank in one of the earlier eps was designed like a scorpion, and the humoid mecha in the mines are shaped like gorillas. I’m so getting Megahouse’s Perfect Piece Tachikoma that’s coming in December, despite its killer price. There are also plans to build a gigantic model kit Tachikoma army with the fellows. I’m going for a gunmetal coloured EVIL one.


Tachikoma


Jigabachi

Macross owns Gundams seriously. Even if I like both, the former looks far better. Out of all the Valkyries, my favourites would be YF-19 (the reverse winged one in Macross Plus) and the EVIL SV-51 piloted by Ivanov in Macross Zero. The rest are cool but not as great. Gundam’s chunky designs totally do not make sense, but I do like some of them. If I had to choose one Gundam to name my favourite, it would be the F91. People tell me I’m insane though. The Astray series are pretty nice too, especially the Blue frame with the extra weapons pack and the Gold Amatu Custom. Other notable ones in the Gundam universe are Gundam EZ-8 (o8th MS Team), Kampfer (0080), RIck Dom and the Full Armour Duel Gundam.


SV-51 plane mode


SV-51 Gerwalk mode

Then we have more generic militarish mecha, like Jinki extend, Full Metal Panic etc. Some of these look good but never leave a lasting impression. I can’t even remember how the M9 looks like. But sometimes, particularly in GONZO shows, the lead mecha looks like shit but a support one appears for an episode or two and makes a huge impact. Burst Angel’s lead mecha, the gunner on rollerskates, is spectacularly unawesome but in episode 21 or 24, the high way patrol robot looks like a traffic police version of IGPX’s IG Machine (and this was before I watched IGPX).

Since we are on the topic, mecha come in all shapes and sizes. From the spiny, rectangularly chunk Zegapain (which looks like fuck), to the almost-alive Raxephon and totally alive Evas. I find organic mecha to be pretty ugly actually. And Zegapain fails. The only organic mecha I like would be Dominator from Overman King Gainer, and that is not for the appearance but its function. We should also not forget the amazing Buster Machine no. 7, who is the best looking female mecha ever (because she doesn’t have missile tits).


Nono!

If we are talking about old robots, we can’t forget Super Robots. I never was much of a fan and actually find them rather ridiculous if taken seriously. Of course, I love Gravion because it is and knows it is a big joke. As for others, I totally have no interest. Raijin-oh, I watched as a kid along with the likes of Power rangers.


Gravion!

Then we have Steampunk mecha like Sakura Wars’ Koubu and Giant Robo. In all honesty, these are seriously butt ugly but taken in context, people still adore them. For Sakura Wars, my favourite would be the Maria Custom (by that I mean, the least ugly).

And that’s all for the random mecha talk. I love random mecha talk.

33 Responses to “Let’s Just Talk Mecha Today”


  • In terms of realism, I like to think about AT Votoms, first. In terms of Scifi, I am intrigued by various mechas in SoltyRei series. In terms of fun, Patlabor. Finally, I think Gundam series has degenerated from real-mecha series to Super Robot series.

  • Gundam may be bullshit in terms or realistic mecha design, however everything else is shit compared to Gundams entartainment value.
    Not to mention that “realistic mecha design” expression is total bullshit in itself, as self-contradicting.

  • So where do Mecha Musume fall in?

  • The Sakutai mecha are supposed to be butt ugly! Nobody thought about making stuff streamlined back in the day. And the best looking one is Ogami’s Koubu F2.

  • Actually, mecha being unrealistic is a common misconception. Right now, we have fucking mecha on Mars and Titan! Hello, this is real life! People like to diss mecha being unrealistic, but I think they use the word too narrowly. To me, mecha just means robotics or machinery.

    Won: Solty Rei is a GONZO show! But the mecha in there are pretty bad.. We have Bubble Gum Crisis tributers, giant doomsday mecha and a Realian.

    Karry must be a Seed fan. I’ve watched so many mecha series and the best Gundam series ever are 08th MS Team, Igloo and 0800′s last 3 eps, none of which have to do with Tomino. But anyone actually dares say that Gundam, beyond 08th, can be compared to the likes of Ghost in the Shell, Macross and the others?

    Skane, Mecha Musume fall in the hot category alongside Nono. There’s a whole subgenre, which includes Skygirls ahah.

  • “To me, mecha just means robotics or machinery.”

    That means you’re wrong.

    “But anyone actually dares say that Gundam, beyond 08th, can be compared to the likes of Ghost in the Shell, Macross and the others?”

    I dare ya. GITS designs may be realistic, to a point, but who cares, if the show itself is piss poor ?
    And Macross was good, but hey, its 25 years old ! All the recent incarnations of the franchise are nothing much. Especially Zero and 7.

  • GitS was pisspoor? Now that’s a first. Nobody I’ve know who’s seen Stand Alone Complex has said that it was bad.

    So what, a mecha must be humoid, bipedal?

  • I think Stardust Memory is a good OVA to catch on, dispite the whiny kou uraki and the superly-patriotic-till-the-point-of-robotic Anavel Gato. Most of the UC century gundams have detailed ‘reports’ (that’s in relation to current technological theories) on the mechanical works, so on and so forth.

  • Karry dude (or dudette?) you’re such a troll =p

    >>I dare ya. GITS designs may be realistic, to a point, but who cares, if the show itself is piss poor ?

    Of all anime GITS has got to be the one approaching most realistic, aside from the slice of life shows.

    If you’ve seen GITS and had that impression, wow, you failed to see past all that quotable quotes contest that happens there.

  • FUCK YOU TJHAN. GITS SUCK SO BAD I USE THEIR DVDS TO WIPE MY ASS. What’s GITS?

    Anyway, YES ALL MECHAS HAVE TO BE HUMANOID AND BIPEDALLED. IN OTHER WORDS IF A MECHA DOESN’T NOT LOOK ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THE DESIGN OF A GUNDAM, IT’S NOT A MECHA. So Gunbuster isn’t a mecha because it cannot split into 3 non-flyable-shaped-objects-that-can-miracuously-fly objects. SRW robots are not mecha because they are robots with people shouting moves while piloting.

    Karry >> Yay! fellow fanboy/girl! Kira rocks! Athrun rocks! I love to hear them cry like wusses. In fact I record their voices and put them on playback. So much better than Batou screaming “MOTOKOOOOOOOOO!” Wuss. Any robot not piloted by gay crybabies isn’t considered mechs. So Gundam 08th MS Team is out too.

    “To me, mecha just means robotics or machinery.”

    That means you’re wrong.

    EXACTLY! Mecha is about something more than that! It’s about gay pilots with machinery. No you can’t have guts and spirit ‘cos that’ll make you manly and lose the mecha status.

  • so many tired old arguments in these comments. mecha is a concept from fantasy/sci-fi shows, thus, it requires a suspension of disbelief. When mecha fans talk about “realistic” mecha, it’s really just acknowledging that the series makes a nod at realism. Series like Gundam are called so because they talk about “Luna Titanium Armor on a Semi-Monocaque Frame with a Panoramic Monitor and Linear Seat”, it’s an attempt at investing a feeling of realism, not actual realism. To argue about the actual realism of mecha is pointless. After all, no matter how advanced your technology is, a bipedal robot is probably never going to be the most practical shape for a military machine.

    btw, thanks for the RAD IGPX images. I added them to my mecha storehouse: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ninjascience

  • Mecha is not a genre.

    It’s a Sub-genre: Minor.

    As quoted by Stephen Neal, “A genre must be defined as patterns/forms/styles/structure which transcends individual films and which supervise both their construction by the filmmaker and their reading by the audience”

    Hahah, I ripped those bullshit from my film notes on Genre.

    I have this ugly vibe that you were going to post something like this, and true enough this happens.

  • With the definition of a “realistic” mecha laid out by Ninjascience then one of if not the most “realistic” mecha series would be Gasaraki. In terms of the TA (Gasaraki’s Mecha) unit’s configuration, movement, combat role, weaponry, and dependency on ground control/support teams it seems the most feasible of any other mecha design. At the very least it never strikes a pose…hehe…

  • I noticed an error near the beginning of the article… The words “cool” and “mecha” appeared near each other. ^_^ :P

    Oh hell, even I’ve watched Godannar and Martian Sucessor Nadesico… and I actually developed a theory about why the robots had to be humaniform in Godannar, despite the fact that the chief mechanic states outright that it makes them weaker. Now that I’ve seen the rest of the series, I need to update it. (Note: links and pics currently not working, as I haven’t finished the move from Houblog.)

  • the IGPX mechs have an interesting design, but i enjoy the more biological designed robots like dix-neuf and canti. as for gundam, what about the versions that KA rehauled for the fix series. those look cool and somewhat realistic (if gundam could ever be that way)

  • >> Actually, mecha being unrealistic is a common misconception. Right now, we have fucking mecha on Mars and Titan! Hello, this is real life!

    They are on Earth to if the Robo Garage of Kyoto University has something to say about that:
    http://www.robo-garage.com/robo/index.html
    http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,71426-0.html
    Plus all those less cool but functional industrial robot arm welders don’t count?

    >>People like to diss mecha being unrealistic, but I think they use the word too narrowly. To me, mecha just means robotics or machinery.

    Tj_han is using the term right. Another term that has been used out of context. In Japanese, mecha does mean anything mechanical. But just as “hentai’ and ‘otaku’ are used out of context, mecha comes to mean robots to the fans outside Japan.

    Mecha is unrealistic mainly because we are at the stage where robots are very specific in their purpose. Of course anime is going to show more mechanically outrageous. No one complains that Goku can destroy entire planets but mecha always gets dissed for being unrealistic? =P

    If you want to discuss more about mecha,
    http://bin.4chan.org/m/imgboard.html
    Gundam for PS3
    http://www.gametrailers.com/gamepage.php?fs=1&id=2148

    Me? I love mecha. Especially the flying ones. XD

  • Wait, is IGPX about racing or about soccer?

    Also, damn the Gundams. KAMFPHERS AND GELGOOGS AND GOUFS AND ZAKUS 4 LYFE :V

    SIEG ZEON :V

  • Drm: IGPX is a battle racing thing.

  • Dude, there’re two unbroadcasted episodes?? Where can I find them?!?!

    You think they’ll come out with a third season? This has been bothering me since the second one ended. I REALLY wanna know how Takeshi and Liz work out…>.

  • Hachi: EPisodes 25 and 26 were unbroadcasted, so I don’t know if you’ve seen them. Basically they conclude the White Snow Battle with a grand finale plus Liz and Takeshi’s love affair. But THe latter was so poorly done it ruins the whole show. Ugh. As for where you can get it, DVDs I guess.

  • My favorite mecha would have to be the ones from Eureka Seven, not cos they are the absolute best, but cos the idea of a surfing mecha that can change into a car is awsome and because of the whole propulsion system of the LFO’s.

    My least favorite mecha would have to be the Bi-pedal mecha from Gasaraki. They are slow, can’t fly, jump or run very fast. They also have 0 to shit agility and the series itself was very boring….

  • erm, how about the stuff from the Armored Core series? I think they fit the balance between cool/reality/fantasy quite well.

  • Very nice article. I am a very huge mecha fan as well and despite the fact I am a bit narrow minded whe it comes to what type of mecha I like (cool design ,nice stories, LOTS of action), yet I am open minded enough to embrace almost every type of mecha (i.e. super, real, etc.), though I am more oriented towards the “flash factor” than realism and practicability.

    My top favorite are those of the 80′s and early 90′s but I have foudnrespect for some of the 70′s mecha like Mazinger Z (the FIRST mecha show I ever saw). I also like newer stuff, of course. Just as long as there are mechs with elements I enjoy, I bet I’ll be hanging around way into my 40s! ^^

  • i think that it”s good shoes of good mechas information.

  • i think that is a good shows of mechas info….

  • LianYL ur a fag wow the guy/girl has there own idea what mecha means tothem and what the should just like and me do relax GITS means GHOST IN THE SHELL u dumb fuck

  • what i meant to say was everyone has the own ideas and love for different mecha

  • Isnt mecha just the same as mechanical? Since its taken out of the word? I mean it points to something alittle more robotic most of the time, but as much as Im concerned it basically means any form of robot, r/c bot, or any type of slave bot(which is basically a bot with a onboard passenger.) Now there is some Robots that count as Slave bots such as the quadpeds from GITS.(Which by far is one of the most realistic animes Ive seen(As pertaining to the technology’s it forcast in the future.) Robots and mecha are differnt, all robots are mecha, only some mecha are robots, Ive studied cartoon mecha and real life mech for about nine years now. Buying every book that interest me me on the subject(Excluding most gundam books, Ive got the technical books and some of the models, I could never really get into the story though.) Look up meka if your interested its a cool french comic.

  • I’m a fan of the realistic and sharper designs of mecha I.E. IGPX(Velsthien),Gundam Wing(Tallgeese III),
    Evagelion “Rebuild 1.0 Version”(Unit 01),Realistic designs include GITS Tachikoma(minus wall climbing), GITS HAW-206 Multiped tank (scorpion).My most favorite mech (for now) is the Lahire schematic from Armored Core For Answer its sharp and quick………….lastly I dont believe all Steampunk mecha are as you say “butt-ugly” there are some that are pretty frickin cool.Its just a matter of finding them…….

  • LianYL 669 comments
    Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:56 pm

    “FUCK YOU TJHAN. GITS SUCK SO BAD I USE THEIR DVDS TO WIPE MY ASS. What’s GITS?

    Anyway, YES ALL MECHAS HAVE TO BE HUMANOID AND BIPEDALLED. IN OTHER WORDS IF A MECHA DOESN’T NOT LOOK ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THE DESIGN OF A GUNDAM, IT’S NOT A MECHA. So Gunbuster isn’t a mecha because it cannot split into 3 non-flyable-shaped-objects-that-can-miracuously-fly objects. SRW robots are not mecha because they are robots with people shouting moves while piloting.”

    To this guy I have three things to say

    1 GITS Is a highly awarded anime which basically created its own type of category (Cyberpunk) and revouloutionized anime.

    2 Just because a mecha is not humanoid does not mean it is not a mecha example ZOIDs.

    3 The Gundam series IS NOT THE DEFINITION OF MECHA so just STFU you 45 year old-sleeping in your parents basement-half brained-stupidity poisoned-fatass-picks a fight-loser…………………

  • He slaves and slaves, writing postcard after postcard. ,

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